During ARM’s TechCon 2013 in Santa Clara, we had a chance to meet with Cavium?s Director of Product Marketing, Rishi Chugh. Cavium was showing their Project Thunder ARMv8 processors, which are supported in Ubuntu 13.10 (Saucy Salamander), the latest release from Canonical. But, unfortunately their Project Thunder was only a simulator, not real silicon.

ARM Cortex-A57 64-bit IP announced October 2012

Cavium is jumping into the ARMv8-based Project Thunder SoC (system-on-chip) family and targeting the cloud computing data centers. Cavium?s Project Thunder is a family of highly integrated, multi-core SoC processors that will incorporate highly optimized, full custom cores built from the ground up. They are based on 64-bit ARMv8 ISA (Instruction Set Architecture) into an innovative SoC that are expected to redefine features, performance, power and cost metrics for the next-generation cloud and datacenter markets.

Cavium?s Techcon 2013 demonstration was in a private suite away from Techcon?s Exhibit Hall. Rishi Chugh and his assistant showed their final beta of a binary compatible, cross-compiler, simulator running on a mid-range laptop. This is Cavium’s Thunder software development platform which will be shipping in a few weeks.

HP?s Moonshot is part of ARM?s Project Thunder platform. Moonshot is the world?s first software defined web server which is designed from the ground-up to use various manufacturer?s Project Thunder ?blades? with their Moonshot backplane. Cavium’s Thunder developer platform with Ubuntu Server 13.10 was also being shown at HP’s Moonshot Discovery Lab on ARM Techcon 2013 exhibitor?s floor. This offered developer attendees a first-look at how they can get a head-start on porting, developing and testing on future cloud centric servers.

Cavium?s cross-complier approach is an interesting way to expedite designing unique features into their highly optimized 64-bit custom cores and SoC implementations for the cloud and datacenter markets. This approach means a much quicker development cycle instead of the traditional FPGA. It allows more ?tweaking? and a faster time-to-market, which is excellent for every company concerned with the bottom line.

ARM?s evolution from version 5 to version 8

Chugh said that his boss, Amer Haider, VP Business Development, has a brief video explaining some more of the benefits of using Cavium?s Project Thunder.

The processors will be offered alongside the Cavium’s existing lineup of Octeon MIPS 64-bit and Nitrox security processors.

Rishi Chugh explained their Project Thunder leverages significant amounts of their in-house IP and builds upon Cavium?s proven track record of developing and delivering, multi-core SoC processors with industry-leading performance, scalability and integration based on both the MIPS and ARM architectures. He said that Cavium has chosen to offer either MIPS or ARM architectures based upon the client?s target-end-market, industry trends, installed software base, ecosystem and customer demand.

Chugh said Ubuntu 13.10 Server preview for developers on Project Thunder can be downloaded from their web site.